Download Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and by George Anthony Selgin PDF

By George Anthony Selgin

Strong funds tells the attention-grabbing tale of British brands' problem to the Crown's monopoly on coinage. within the 1780s, whilst the commercial Revolution used to be accumulating momentum, the Royal Mint didn't produce adequate small-denomination coinage for manufacturing unit vendors to pay their employees. because the forex scarcity threatened to derail commercial growth, brands started to mint personalized cash, known as "tradesman's tokens." swiftly gaining large reputation, those tokens served because the nation's hottest foreign money for wages and retail revenues till 1821, whilst the Crown outlawed all moneys other than its own.Economist George Selgin provides a full of life story of enterprising brands, technological techniques, substitute currencies, and struggles over the proper to coin felony money.George Selgin is Professor of Economics within the Terry collage of industrial on the college of Georgia and study Fellow on the self sufficient Institute in Oakland, California (www.independent.org).

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Extra resources for Good Money: Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage, 1775-1821

Example text

Consequently, guineas and half guineas began to be aggressively and illegally trimmed, in what came to be known as the "yellow trade," and Great Britain soon found itself deprived of good full-bodied coins of any kind. 20 GOOD MONEY with silver. If the stock of silver money grew at all, it did so thanks only to counterfeiting. Good silver money, on the other hand, was altogether unobtainable. And no wonder: the mint couldn't be expected to administer properly a token coinage whose very existence it refused to acknowledge.

In 1693 and again in 1701, the copper coinage was assigned to private patentees, with even more disastrous consequences. In 1717, the Royal Mint took charge again, but neither that step nor other legal reforms and private initiatives sufficed to put a stop to false coining. By midcentury, according to an informed contemporary estimate and also to the contents of a hoard of that period's copper coins unearthed many years later, close to half of all the copper coins in circulation were fake. By the end of the century, the fraction had grown larger still, with estimates placing it between five-sixths and over nine-tenths.

In ancient and medieval times, the tendency was most often observed in connection with coin debasements, which were reductions in mint equivalents achieved by adding extra base metal to gold or silver coins, so that newer coins might appear just as heavy as old ones despite containing less precious metal. "Bad" (debased) coins then tended to drive "good" (finer) ones out of circulation. In a bimetallic context, Gresham's law typically refers to people's tendency to stop bringing an officially undervalued metal to the mint and (especially) to their tendency to melt officially undervalued coins, or to lighten or "short" them by clipping or filing them or by "sweating" them in nitric acid until the metal still in them is worth no more than their de- 13.

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